This is my slide deck and script for the The 6th Annual Enter­prise Archi­tec­ture Con­fer­ence in Syd­ney on 3 Sep­tem­ber 2008.

We all know the world of busi­ness is expe­ri­enc­ing mas­sive change. The nature of how we do busi­ness itself is under­go­ing a groundswell that rede­fines work for the early part of the 21st Century.

We can no longer push mes­sages to a pas­sive con­sumer base, or an equally pas­sive work­force. Cus­tomers, stake­hold­ers, con­sumers, clients and par­tic­u­larly our employ­ees expect, quite rightly, to have a hand in the way your organ­i­sa­tion oper­ates. We need to be aware of that, and of the grow­ing power of each of those groups as con­sumer activism and per­sonal brand­ing become sig­nif­i­cant con­sid­er­a­tions in our inter­ac­tions with them.

The need for col­lab­o­ra­tion through­out our organ­i­sa­tions and effec­tive man­age­ment of knowl­edge work­ers is a dri­ving force for change and inno­va­tion. As is the need to attract, engage in mean­ing­ful work and retain over time a skilled (and skilled in the right things) workforce.

Con­tin­u­ing to oper­ate by Tay­lor’s out­moded rules — where the employee is a sim­ple and unin­formed cog in the machine — is set­ting our­selves up for fail­ure and a spec­tac­u­lar and messy crash as we rush head­long into what looks like the light but is actu­ally the onrush­ing train of progress.

We are at a tip­ping point. One where we have just two choices; busi­ness as usual and the accom­pa­ny­ing inevitable crash, or a reboot.

That reboot will change our busi­nesses dramatically.

That change will bring about organ­i­sa­tions where empow­er­ment, shar­ing and open com­mu­ni­ca­tion are watch­words for this new world. Where walls, gates, silos and unnec­es­sary con­trol are col­lapsed in favor of a more human place that envis­ages our busi­nesses as excit­ing, col­lab­o­ra­tive, engag­ing places to be.

Let’s begin at the beginning.

There’s a lot of fear, uncer­tainty and doubt about what Web 2.0 and Enter­prise 2.0 actu­ally mean. So let’s clar­ify those mean­ings. With­out them, we don’t really have a topic to talk about.

Take the red pill, Neo.

Sorry, but no. Adop­tion of Enter­prise 2.0 processes and tools in your organ­i­sa­tion is no panacea for the prob­lems you may be fac­ing. And it won’t bring about an epiphany in your busi­ness tomor­row. Embark­ing on this path is fraught with risk. Doing this right involves a poten­tially huge amount of organ­i­sa­tional change.

That change will inevitably touch almost every part of your busi­ness — HR, Mar­ket­ing, Sales, Comms, Finance, Pro­duc­tion, IT and the C-​​suites on the top floor. You can’t do some­thing that pro­found with­out a robust and thor­ough strat­egy and imple­men­ta­tion plan in place.

Not only that, adopt­ing Enter­prise 2.0 approaches in your organ­i­sa­tion is a prob­lem that affects man­age­ment and peo­ple strat­egy, tech­nol­ogy strat­egy and almost every­thing else you do. That said, while you should be care­ful in your Enter­prise 2.0 adven­ture, it’s no cause for panic. The sky is very def­i­nitely not falling.

The naysay­ers, of course, will have you believe that it’s the end of civil­i­sa­tion itself. Dogs and cats liv­ing together in har­mony stuff.

Not true.

Yes, adopt­ing Enter­prise 2.0 tools and tech­niques will bring about some major changes — cul­tur­ally, organ­i­sa­tion­ally and tech­ni­cally — in your busi­ness. But appro­pri­ately well thought out strat­egy and equally care­ful imple­men­ta­tion will make it very, very doable.

Let’s get down to some definitions.

Cue heav­enly host. In the beginning…

We’ve all heard of Web 2.0. Some of us even think we know how to define it. Any­one want to have a go at a defin­i­tive answer? If you do, you’re braver than me, and I deal with this stuff every day.

To avoid argu­ment, let’s look at what is con­sid­ered one of the most defin­i­tive expla­na­tions of Web 2.0 — the one laid out by pub­lisher and ana­lyst Tim O’Reilly way back in Octo­ber 2005 in his arti­cle What Is Web 2.0? We’ll stip­u­late this to be our def­i­n­i­tion today.

Tim’s first asser­tion is that for Web 2.0 appli­ca­tions, the Web is the plat­form. What this means is that we’re no longer in client-​​server land.

But it’s more pow­er­ful that that. By using the Web as the deploy­ment plat­form, as the car­rier for the sig­nals the appli­ca­tions gen­er­ate, you can, as Tim O’Reilly says, “Lever­age customer-​​self ser­vice and algo­rith­mic data man­age­ment to reach out to the entire web, to the edges and not just the cen­ter, to the long tail and not just the head.”

This is an incred­i­bly big asser­tion, and it car­ries an equally big, and per­haps more pow­er­ful effect. By using the Web as deliv­ery plat­form — whether the World Wide Web, or just the inter­nal web pro­vided by your cor­po­rate net­work, you expose oppor­tu­ni­ties and infor­ma­tion to a far richer ecosys­tem; one where users are self-​​organising and self empow­er­ing, one where your ideas, and the ideas of oth­ers, and the knowl­edge you col­lec­tively gen­er­ate are avail­able to the very edges of the network.

This approach is some­thing we’re see­ing more and more.

I use appli­ca­tions on the Web every day for a mul­ti­tude of things — my email is hosted on Google Apps, as is my cal­en­dar. I host pho­tos with Flickr. I man­age my travel with Tri­pAd­vi­sor, TripIt and Dopplr all work­ing together har­mo­niously. I do project man­age­ment with Base­Camp. I keep all my con­fer­ence pre­sen­ta­tions at Slideshare. I host videos of my con­fer­ence talks on my own YouTube chan­nel. I keep up with events on Upcom­ing and Face­book. I don’t bother keep­ing a CV or Rolodex any­more — LinkedIn and High­Rise do a much bet­ter job of both those tasks than I ever did. And to keep in touch with my net­work — pro­fes­sional and per­sonal — I use Face­book and Twit­ter.

Few of these tools even existed five years ago. And none of them in their present form.

The sec­ond of Tim O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 fac­tors is the notion of the har­ness­ing of col­lec­tive intelligence.

It’s a core premise of Web 2.0 appli­ca­tions that there is an expo­nen­tial increase in the value of both the net­work of contributor-​​users and the infor­ma­tion in the net­work as new infor­ma­tion and users are added.
As O’Reilly puts it, “Net­work effects from user con­tri­bu­tions are the key to mar­ket dom­i­nance in the Web 2.0 era.”

The third of O’Reilly’s fac­tors is data as the DNA of the appli­ca­tion. With­out good data, no appli­ca­tion, Web 2.0 or oth­er­wise, is of much value. Garbage in def­i­nitely equals garbage out. But qual­ity data in is a very dif­fer­ent beast indeed when lever­aged well by the net­work of users.

Flex­i­bil­ity of data, too, is a core aspect of this com­pe­tency. Data needs to be freed for con­sump­tion via APIs so that it can be mashed up and repur­posed by other appli­ca­tions and the mul­ti­tude of end users.
As O’Reilly says, “Data­base man­age­ment is a core com­pe­tency of Web 2.0 com­pa­nies… [but often] allow users to take con­trol of how data is dis­played on their computer.”

Mono­lithic projects with two-​​year life­cy­cles are dead. The groundswell emerges, matures and evolves so quickly that an agile (not nec­es­sar­ily in the devel­op­ment method­ol­ogy sense) and inno­v­a­tive approach to under­stand­ing the mar­ket­place and the needs of busi­ness is a pre­req­ui­site to build­ing and devel­op­ing appli­ca­tions in a 2.0 world. Appli­ca­tions need to be launched with core func­tion­al­ity quickly and evolved and matured just as quickly. All the time tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the needs of the user base as a key factor.

Fail­ure to con­sider users and their explicit needs is guar­an­tee of fail­ure and is a fre­quently iden­ti­fied key fac­tor in those IT projects that in Aus­tralia and around the world, fail as much as 70 per cent of the time. How many bad imple­men­ta­tions of grand scale enter­prise appli­ca­tions have you seen? I’ve seen plenty. My friend and Boston­ian, Michael Krigs­man of Asuret actu­ally runs a blog at ZDNet ded­i­cated to expo­sure and analy­sis of such failures.

To quote O’Reilly once more, “Oper­a­tions must become a core com­pe­tency… Users must be treated as co-​​developers.”

O’Reilly touches again on the mod­els for Web 2.0 suc­cess, big-​​bang projects are once again hav­ing the death knell sounded upon them. He says, “Sup­port light­weight pro­gram­ming mod­els that allow for loosely cou­pled sys­tems… Think syn­di­ca­tion, not coor­di­na­tion… Design for “hack­a­bil­ity” and remixability.”

Busi­ness prac­tices, release cycles, pro­gram­ming approaches, plat­form choices all must undergo sig­nif­i­cant change in order to achieve suc­cess. An approach that aban­dons slow, management-​​heavy prac­tices needs to be sub­sti­tuted with more light­weight approaches that allow for flex­i­bil­ity, fre­quent change and release, breadth and depth of stake­holder input and light-​​touch man­age­ment where devel­op­ment and busi­ness teams are allowed to get on with the job.

The notion of a sin­gle choice of plat­form, or even a sin­gle browser for web appli­ca­tion deliv­ery was always a bad idea. Today, it’s suicide.

In Africa and Asia, and increas­ingly in the West, mobile devices are the go-​​to plat­form for con­sump­tion of appli­ca­tions. Fail­ing to account for multi-​​platform, multi-​​device, multi-​​browser deliv­ery of your appli­ca­tion is at best, unwise, at worst, a guar­an­tee of failure.

It’s not unrea­son­able to assume that your appli­ca­tion could be con­sumed by an iPhone user, or on a Black­berry, an Eee PC, a TiVo, a PlaySta­tion 3, Inter­net Explorer, Fire­fox, Safari, or even machine-​​to-​​machine using RSS or some other form of syn­di­ca­tion. Equally, those same plat­forms could be pro­vid­ing data back to your appli­ca­tions. Are you ready for that? You should be.

Another quote, then, from Tim O’Reilly, “What appli­ca­tions become pos­si­ble when our phones and our cars are not con­sum­ing data but report­ing it? Real time traf­fic mon­i­tor­ing, flash mobs, and cit­i­zen jour­nal­ism are only a few of the early warn­ing signs of the capa­bil­i­ties of the new platform.”

Tim O’Reilly’s final fac­tor for Web 2.0 appli­ca­tions is one of aes­thet­ics and good user expe­ri­ence. I can’t think of the num­ber of times I’ve been forced to use an awful inter­face or work­flow because the user expe­ri­ence and actual user needs weren’t a core con­sid­er­a­tion of the devel­op­ment process.

No won­der your projects fail when they are deployed and nobody uses them because they are, frankly, unus­able. Did you actu­ally ask the users what they wanted or needed? Did you actu­ally artic­u­late their prob­lems and solve them in the appli­ca­tion? Or did you bypass that because “the users will do what they’re told” or you ran out of time to hire a decent infor­ma­tion archi­tect and usabil­ity expert.

Sorry, but the days of pas­sive users that will accept the crap shov­elled at them in the name of enter­prise appli­ca­tions is over. The sooner that’s realised in many organ­i­sa­tions, the better.

Tim’s last quote on the mat­ter; “Com­pa­nies that suc­ceed will cre­ate appli­ca­tions that learn from their users, using an archi­tec­ture of par­tic­i­pa­tion to build a com­mand­ing advan­tage not just in the soft­ware inter­face, but in the rich­ness of the shared data.”

In fact, let’s look at a quick video of Tim from last year, where he gives us a pretty nice, clean def­i­n­i­tion that touches on some of the mate­r­ial we’re going to cover shortly.

Net­work effects. Users add value. Don’t for­get that.

What all of these appli­ca­tions do is focus on peo­ple over process. They bring peo­ple together in a com­mu­nity. They empower them to com­mu­ni­cate and col­lab­o­rate in new and engag­ing ways.

Most sim­ply, they break peo­ple out of the Indus­trial Age fac­tory par­a­digm we’re all used to work­ing in — heads down and back­side up, slav­ing away over a hot key­board — and let them work in a more human way.
There are a mul­ti­tude of mea­sur­able ben­e­fits to work­ing this way — a higher incli­na­tion to inno­va­tion, higher engage­ment and moti­va­tion of the peo­ple involved, increased abil­ity to cap­ture data and apply mean­ing to it as knowl­edge, greater dis­cov­er­abil­ity of exper­tise and infor­ma­tion. There are already sev­eral case stud­ies show­ing these ben­e­fits and others.

Along­side the increased human way of work­ing, O’Reilly talks a great deal about net­work effects. So what’s he on about? A net­work effect describes the increase in value in a sys­tem the more users join in on it. As every new user joins, there’s an expo­nen­tial increase in the value of the net­work for both the new user and the exist­ing user base.

So, with net­work effects applied, the whole is very much greater than the sum. The abil­ity for any one user to reach out to the vast pool of knowl­edge and infor­ma­tion in the sys­tem is dra­mat­i­cally ampli­fied with every new user.

There are good math­e­mat­i­cal and obser­va­tional mod­els to prove this. Per­haps the most impor­tant is David P Reed’s 2001 obser­va­tion in Har­vard Busi­ness Review on the increase in util­ity, par­tic­u­larly in social net­works, when the num­ber of two, three and larger groups are extrap­o­lated out of a larger network.

“The value of a group-​​forming net­work increases expo­nen­tially… its impli­ca­tions are profound.”

David P Reed

Reed argues con­vinc­ingly that even­tu­ally the net­work effect of poten­tial group mem­ber­ship can dom­i­nate the over­all eco­nom­ics of the sys­tem, regard­less of the small­ness of the net­work. This has big impli­ca­tions for the imple­men­ta­tion of social tech­nolo­gies in busi­ness where knowl­edge net­works are core to suc­cess­ful operation.

So now that we’ve had a short primer on Web 2.0, we can jump out of the appar­ent chaos and into the order that must come in the world of busi­ness. Web 2.0 is not Enter­prise 2.0, but they are sib­lings. It’s like one hav­ing ADHD, and the other being metic­u­lous and orderly (but in a good way).

Arguably, the first men­tion of Enter­prise 2.0 as a coher­ent set of tools and tech­nolo­gies was by Har­vard Busi­ness School’s, Pro­fes­sor Andrew McAfee in the Spring 2006 issue of the MIT Sloan Man­age­ment Review; one of the world’s lead­ing man­age­ment best prac­tice pub­li­ca­tions. Andrew is a world-​​recognised expert on man­age­ment best prac­tice and the enter­prise use of social tech­nolo­gies to boost inno­va­tion, imple­ment lead­er­ship best prac­tice and build new-​​world col­lab­o­ra­tive busi­nesses. Since the Sloan arti­cle, Andrew has con­tin­ued to set the stan­dard for analy­sis and thought lead­er­ship in enter­prise social tool analysis.

So, what is Enter­prise 2.0? What are the tools, processes, cul­tural fac­tors and prac­tices that make up this poten­tially rev­o­lu­tion­ary change for busi­ness in the 21st Century?

Let’s look first at how this all applies to busi­ness. How are the tools used? Where? By whom? And what results might we see?

Enter­prise 2.0 imple­men­ta­tions use the tools of Web 2.0 in a business-​​appropriate con­text. Wikis, blogs, social net­works, and other Web 2.0 appli­ca­tions are used inside the wall, amongst employ­ees, to enable low-​​barrier col­lab­o­ra­tion across the enterprise.

A num­ber of research projects, includ­ing most recently the McK­in­sey Global Sur­vey, Build­ing the Web 2.0 Enter­prise, pub­lished in July 2008, have found an increas­ing use of both tools and the type of tools, the will­ing­ness to adopt across all parts of busi­ness, the range of activ­i­ties being under­taken using the tools and the range of ben­e­fi­cial effects on busi­ness, man­age­ment and lead­er­ship prac­tices the tools are facilitating.

Enter­prise 2.0, like its sib­ling Web 2.0, brings a more human focus to col­lab­o­ra­tion and knowl­edge man­age­ment. The open, barrier-​​reducing lead­er­ship prac­tices required for suc­cess are also strongly cen­tered on peo­ple rather than tra­di­tional command-​​and-​​control management.

The McK­in­sey Global Sur­vey also iden­ti­fies a num­ber of busi­ness and cul­tural changes of ben­e­fit that Enter­prise 2.0 pro­grams can bring includ­ing cus­tomer and sup­plier com­mu­ni­ca­tions, recruit­ment, engage­ment and reten­tion strat­egy and prac­tice, the intro­duc­tion of new roles focussed on sup­port­ing, enabling and evan­ge­lis­ing pro­grams and flat­ten­ing of organ­i­sa­tional hier­ar­chies to the end of improv­ing intra-​​organisational com­mu­ni­ca­tions and collaboration.

Vis­i­bil­ity to activ­ity across busi­ness — effec­tively, removal of siloed activ­ity — is a key fac­tor in Enter­prise 2.0 imple­men­ta­tions. Result­ing in increased dis­cov­er­abil­ity of both exper­tise and infor­ma­tion, vis­i­ble, in-​​context activ­ity streams for indi­vid­u­als and projects have a mea­sur­able effect on improv­ing cor­po­rate and indi­vid­ual com­mu­ni­ca­tions, increas­ing employee engage­ment and break­ing down depart­men­tal walls.
With all of this activ­ity going on, real­is­ing real ben­e­fits takes only a short time.

Sev­eral research projects as well as real-​​world suc­cesses have found Enter­prise 2.0 projects can boost an organisation’s abil­ity to col­lect and retain infor­ma­tion. And, in par­tic­u­lar, to con­tex­tu­alise that infor­ma­tion into knowl­edge and to facil­i­tate the gath­er­ing of knowl­edge that had pre­vi­ously remained tacit, stuck in people’s heads until just the right ques­tions were asked.

Train­ing is a vir­tual non-​​issue. Most peo­ple can become com­fort­ably adept at using these tools with less than a hour of train­ing. There’s actu­ally an ongo­ing case study in Canada with 5th Graders. They are taught to use a wiki, as a tool for a group project involv­ing writ­ing, video, audio and other mul­ti­me­dia in less than 30 min­utes of training.

Are you and your staff smarter than a 5th Grader?

The human-​​centric approach to using Enter­prise 2.0 tools allows pat­terns of work and processes to be emer­gent, intro­duc­ing effi­cien­cies that aren’t oth­er­wise realised in a work­place where “the way we do things” is pre­de­fined and laid down.

On of the great­est imped­i­ments to pro­duc­tiv­ity, inno­va­tion and pro­gram suc­cess in organ­i­sa­tions of all types is lack of vis­i­bil­ity to activ­ity by the entire busi­ness. Whether it’s the result of a delib­er­ate cul­ture of secrecy and silo­ing to pro­tect some the­o­ret­i­cal patch, or sim­ply a lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion through inac­tion or unde­vel­oped skills and activ­ity makes no difference.

The imple­men­ta­tion of Enter­prise 2.0 pro­grams, adopt­ing both the cul­tural and tech­ni­cal com­po­nents, brings forth an oppor­tu­nity to rad­i­cally rethink notions of open­ness and vis­i­bil­ity for work. The accom­pa­ny­ing spread to the edges effect of open­ness also gives activ­ity the oppor­tu­nity to receive input from oth­er­wise unin­volved parts of the organisation.

With open expo­sure of activ­ity in pro­grams and projects, the like­li­hood of dupli­cated effort — a huge source of wasted dol­lars in many busi­nesses — is reduced. In fact, projects approach­ing sim­i­lar prob­lems are given the oppor­tu­nity to col­lab­o­rate and join far more easily.

With all of this expo­sure, input, inno­va­tion and reduc­tion of waste, the oppor­tu­nity to see real ROI on Enter­prise 2.0 projects can be realised. It’s not imme­di­ate, but it is mea­sur­able over use­ful timelines.

Also, this pat­tern of work­ing and the tools allow peo­ple to be more pro­duc­tive gen­er­ally, as they work in a more nat­ural style and, when done right, are able to be more engaged in their work. There is a sig­nif­i­cant and grow­ing pool of research and case study evi­dence point­ing to pro­duc­tiv­ity gains through well-​​implemented Enter­prise 2.0 programs.

So what are the com­po­nents of the Enter­prise 2.0 world?

Andrew McAfee’s orig­i­nal arti­cle came up with this mnemonic — SLATES. Let’s take a quick look at each of the components.

Here’s a quick quote from Andrew’s arti­cle. Just some­thing to chew on.

“These [tools] are part of a plat­form that’s read­able by any­one in the com­pany, and they’re per­sis­tent. They make an episode of knowl­edge work widely and per­ma­nently visible.”

Andrew McAfee

The first core com­po­nent of Enter­prise 2.0 is Search. Enter­prise search is a fre­quent bug­bear in organ­i­sa­tions. No doubt many of you will have heard cries of, “I can’t find any­thing on the intranet.” Good Enter­prise 2.0 tools facil­i­tate dis­cov­er­abil­ity of information.

Link­ing. We all know the hyper­link is the heart of the World Wide Web. The same goes for your inter­nal tools. Every­thing should link together so that related projects, tools, top­ics, peo­ple, busi­ness units or what­ever are dis­cov­er­able in the con­text of every­day activity.

Author­ship. Iden­ti­fy­ing the source of a piece of infor­ma­tion or knowl­edge is key. How else do you know who and where to turn to when you need the next piece of the puz­zle? No more anony­mous white papers. Author­ship also grants own­er­ship for the cre­ation of mate­r­ial to indi­vid­u­als, pro­vid­ing self-​​actualising fac­tors that aid in their estab­lish­ing them­selves as organ­i­sa­tion resources on their sub­ject matter.

Tags. Many of us have prob­a­bly seen tools like del​.icio​.us, Ma.gnolia and Stum­ble­Upon in the out­side world. They allow end users to apply their own mean­ing to infor­ma­tion, over and above the more con­sid­ered cor­po­rate tax­onomies we work with. Tag­ging has been found, in at least one study, to offer in excess of 70 per cent greater dis­cov­er­abil­ity for infor­ma­tion. Imag­ine peo­ple in your organ­i­sa­tion find­ing things eas­ily because they were tagged with words and phrases mean­ing­ful to them and the other peo­ple they work with.

Exten­sions. We’re talk­ing here about the abil­ity of smart sys­tems and smart users to sur­face up the long tail of con­tent through fea­tures such as rep­u­ta­tion sys­tems and “other mate­r­ial like this” or “peo­ple like you” algo­rithms. Exten­sion of the threads out to other sources increases the like­li­hood of dis­cov­er­abil­ity of your information.

Sig­nals. We’re all over­whelmed by the sheer vol­ume of con­tent avail­able to us, and sift­ing through it can be a task so oner­ous as to dis­cour­age action. Enter­prise 2.0 imple­men­ta­tions adopt inbound sig­nal­ing as a way of alert­ing users to new and changed mate­r­ial that has been iden­ti­fied explic­itly as of rel­e­vance to them. Use of email is the most basic form, but is inef­fi­cient and far less pow­er­ful than tech­nolo­gies like RSS.

We can see by com­bin­ing the forces of Enter­prise 2.0, we can build an ecosys­tem where users are con­nected to infor­ma­tion and each other, can find it eas­ily and are made aware of change.

Of course, Andrew McAfee’s def­i­n­i­tion is now three years old. That’s an age in Inter­net Time.

Just less than a year ago, Dion Hinch­cliffe, one of the world’s lead­ing EA and Enter­prise 2.0 minds rethought SLATES and came up with FLATNESSES. More than a lit­tle humor­ous, it also calls to mind the flat­ten­ing of organ­i­sa­tions that takes place in suc­cess­ful Enter­prise 2.0 imple­men­ta­tions. But what does it mean?

Here’s a quote from the arti­cle Dion wrote to pub­li­cise his mnemonic.


Again we hear the net­work called forth as the pre­dom­i­nant plat­form for dis­tri­b­u­tion. And it’s the net­work in all it’s forms — infra­struc­ture, ser­vices and people.

Let’s look at FLATNESSES.

Freeform. Open, emer­gent, linked and evolv­ing as needed.

Links. We know about those.

Author­ship. Again, we know.

Tags. We know.

Network-​​oriented. In all of the hard­ware, soft­ware and wetware.

Exten­sions. Again, we know.

Search. We know. And I think we all agree it’s fundamental.

Social. We’ve talked exten­sively about bring­ing human-​​centric views into our work. Suc­cess­ful Enter­prise 2.0 imple­men­ta­tions pay spe­cial atten­tion to ensur­ing peo­ple are able to have a con­ver­sa­tion, col­lab­o­rate on work and build a com­mu­nity around it.

Emer­gence. Best prac­tices, knowl­edge, inno­va­tion and all the other fac­tors needed to build a suc­cess­ful 21st Cen­tury, knowledge-​​centric, people-​​centric organ­i­sa­tion are facil­i­tated in Enter­prise 2.0 pro­grams. They are allowed to emerge and evolve.

Sig­nals. We know about those.

We’ve seen that suc­cess­ful pro­grams imple­ment­ing Enter­prise 2.0 tools can give us a rad­i­cally shifted work­place where we get bet­ter, richer out­comes. But what outcomes?

The sys­tems, the tools, push new mate­r­ial to users. The need to go look­ing is reduced.

Just as eas­ily, users are empow­ered to pull data to them­selves through RSS or other noti­fi­ca­tion systems.

Flow, in the psy­cho­log­i­cal sense is poten­tially increased, as employ­ees suf­fer fewer dis­trac­tions and inter­rup­tions, lead­ing to higher pro­duc­tiv­ity and higher engagement.

How do we make it hap­pen? Let’s look very briefly at some of the key find­ings from the McK­in­sey Global Sur­vey men­tioned earlier.

The sur­vey found that busi­nesses that focussed tool choices around real, well-​​described user needs rather than reliance on a ven­dor or per­ceived need that didn’t address real user require­ments had mea­sur­ably greater suc­cess with their Enter­prise 2.0 programs.

To quote the sur­vey, these organ­i­sa­tions realised “increased pro­duc­tiv­ity and enable­ment of tacit inter­ac­tions on a pre­vi­ously unknown scale.” That’s com­pelling stuff.

The same sur­vey found that busi­nesses see­ing suc­cess were also ena­gag­ing cus­tomers and sup­pli­ers in their prod­uct devel­op­ment. This led to better-​​realised prod­ucts and offer­ings. They drew feed­back from out­side the organ­i­sa­tion that the busi­ness was pay­ing atten­tion to cus­tomer and sup­plier needs, dri­ving return busi­ness and new busi­ness by refer­ral as well as a num­ber of other ben­e­fits around cost-​​savings and client and sup­plier interactions.

The best knowl­edge or inno­v­a­tive ideas about some­thing may not always reside in the prod­uct team, or mar­ket­ing, or R&D. Suc­cess­ful Enter­prise 2.0 imple­men­ta­tions, again accord­ing to the McK­in­sey Global Sur­vey, tapped into a rich ecosys­tem of ideas and input, both within the wall and from customers.

The final key find­ing to look at is a trans­for­ma­tional change the busi­nesses see­ing suc­cess in their Enter­prise 2.0 pro­grams are realising.

These com­pa­nies are not only rapidly adopt­ing addi­tional Enter­prise 2.0 tech­nolo­gies over and above their orig­i­nal efforts, but they are using them to aid in organ­i­sa­tional and man­age­ment change — flat­ten­ing struc­tures, open­ing lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and break­ing down barriers.

We’ve seen the changes that suc­cess­ful Enter­prise 2.0 pro­grams can bring. But none of this is new. How many of us have read, or know of “The Clue­train Man­i­festo”? Next year, Clue­train will be 10 years old.

That’s right. 10 years ago we were all made aware of how chang­ing our busi­nesses to oper­ate this way would bring more cus­tomers who were more sat­is­fied with what we are doing, would attract more of the right staff who would be more moti­vated and engaged in their work and would trans­form man­age­ment and lead­er­ship practice.

So what’s our prob­lem? Why aren’t we all doing this? Why are so many of our busi­nesses still 9 – 5 (or later) sausage fac­to­ries where we work head-​​down backside-​​up in a state of bliss­ful, decon­tex­tu­alised igno­rance? Why is it that century-​​old prac­tices devised to oper­ate fac­to­ries rather than inno­v­a­tive, knowledge-​​centric busi­nesses still predominate?

Your busi­ness and every other busi­ness you work with, have a stake in, or are a cus­tomer of, actu­ally needs to oper­ate focussed on peo­ple and the con­ver­sa­tions they have.

Tech­nol­ogy is not the answer to our prob­lems, it’s a toolset to be utilised.

As tech­nol­ogy imple­menters and lead­ers in your organ­i­sa­tions, it’s up to you to pro­vide the right tools at the right time in the right con­text to make the jobs of the peo­ple you work with eas­ier and more pro­duc­tive.
So let’s take a brief look at the core pieces of the Enter­prise 2.0 toolkit.

Wikis are often seen as the big bang prod­uct. A place where every­one in the organ­i­sa­tion can get involved as much or as lit­tle as they see fit. There are sev­eral case stud­ies in Aus­tralia and over­seas where suc­cess­ful wiki imple­men­ta­tions have replaced an oth­er­wise unused and unus­able cor­po­rate intranet and, in a very excit­ing new case, the Aus­tralian Navy have just imple­mented a brand new pub­lic web­site using Medi­aWiki; the same free, Open Source, exten­si­ble plat­form that runs Wikipedia.

Blogs. Not just the fevered rant­i­ngs of mil­lions of self-​​reflective, self-​​indulgent emo kids, but a great way to actu­ally com­mu­ni­cate the progress and activ­ity of your project or busi­ness unit out to your col­leagues, or imple­ment a use­ful cus­tomer rela­tions channel.

Mashups. The open data APIs offered by many Web 2.0 and Enter­prise 2.0 tools make mashups a real­ity. Far more than the dash­boards of the 90s, mashups can offer real-​​time two-​​way looks into busi­ness activ­ity, sys­tem sta­tus and cor­po­rate and mar­ket trends.

Com­mu­ni­ties. We all live in them. Yet we come into work and hide away in our 10m2 or less of floor space and never com­mu­ni­cate with the rich com­mu­nity of thinkers and doers we work with. Enter­prise 2.0 tools offer­ing com­mu­nity aspects can help build the col­le­giate, vil­lage feel we crave for — whether it’s the lunchtime soc­cer club or the CEO’s Feed­back Forum.

Book­marks. We all have favorites in our browsers, but they’re locked away and unus­able by our col­leagues. Book­mark­ing tools inside the wall — a cor­po­rate del​.icio​.us or Ma.gnolia — can expose a vast world of infor­ma­tion to our­selves and our col­leagues as each of us dis­cov­ers new and valu­able knowl­edge we want to share.

Social net­works. Not quite the same as com­mu­ni­ties, but shar­ing aspects of them, social net­works inside the wall, and across them out to our cus­tomers and sup­pli­ers, can facil­i­tate the dis­cov­ery of tal­ent and exper­tise, sources of infor­ma­tion and con­nec­tions we can exploit to do our jobs better.

Now a short diver­sion before we wind up. A lit­tle look at what our organ­i­sa­tions might realise with these things in place.

Let’s look at some of what are often con­sid­ered “soft” ben­e­fits that can be realised by suc­cess­ful imple­men­ta­tions of Enter­prise 2.0 tools and practices.

Enter­prise 2.0 cul­ture and tools are equally accept­ing of vari­ant work styles. The busy, 8-​​hours-​​a-​​day worker who likes to be head-​​down backside-​​up is just as eas­ily accom­mo­dated as the bursty, cre­ative worker who spends time in con­ver­sa­tions, or col­lab­o­rat­ing on many projects.

That doesn’t set aside the poten­tial cul­tural clash between these worker types, that’s alto­gether another issue. But it is one that is addressed by the over­all cul­tural changes that come along with suc­cess­ful Enter­prise 2.0 implementations.

Back in April 2007, my friend and col­league Anne Zelenka pub­lished some­thing of a man­i­festo regard­ing the busy/​burst dichotomy, falling strongly on the side of burst.  Same place as I am.

“The burst econ­omy, enabled by the Web, works on inno­va­tion, flat knowl­edge net­works, and dis­con­tin­u­ous productivity.”

Anne Zelenka, Web Worker Daily

Recent research pub­lished shows a strong ten­dency, greater than 90 per cent in fact, for new hires under 40 years of age (and frankly, that’s most of your new hires) to pick roles where they are facil­i­tated in engag­ing in open, col­lab­o­ra­tive work environments.

Given the choice of two oth­er­wise equal roles, these peo­ple will choose the role where the cor­po­rate cul­ture and the tools avail­able make it easy for them to engage in the con­ver­sa­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tion and com­mu­nity they want in their work.

“Employee recruit­ment and reten­tion could become one moti­va­tor and one very sig­nif­i­cant ROI.”

Bill Ives, FASTForward

Given employee turnover and attrac­tion of new hires is an extremely expen­sive busi­ness — on aver­age at least $10000 on the first year’s other costs — aren’t you bet­ter off mak­ing sure you have the right tools and cul­ture in place to keep your peo­ple moti­vated and doing a great job?

There’s a lot of talk going on about the schism between var­i­ous worker gen­er­a­tions — the near-​​to-​​retirement Baby Boomers, the Gen Xers like me, and the brash young Gen Ys who want to rise rapidly up the cor­po­rate lad­der with­out pay­ing their dues.

And yes, these gen­er­al­i­sa­tions apply across large sam­ple pop­u­la­tions. But solid research out of the HR indus­try sug­gests very strongly that this divide is false. Peo­ple are far more influ­enced by life events and per­sonal pref­er­ences in the way they work, in the roles they seek and in the atti­tudes they bring than by any arbi­trary gen­er­a­tion they are sup­posed to belong to.

The capa­bil­ity that a suc­cess­ful Enter­prise 2.0 imple­men­ta­tion brings to an organ­i­sa­tion to engage employ­ees across gen­er­a­tional lines and to get them work­ing together is a strong moti­va­tor for success.

Let’s take a very quick look at two Enter­prise 2.0 suc­cess stories.

The CIA. Of all places. Don’t tell me doing this stuff in your organ­i­sa­tion is too risky if this organ­i­sa­tion can do it.

In June this year I had the priv­i­lege of meet­ing two of the CIA’s lead­ing play­ers in their Enter­prise 2.0 efforts, Don Burke and Sean Den­nehy at the Enter­prise 2.0 Con­fer­ence in Boston, Massachusetts.

Since 2005, the CIA have imple­mented a suite of tools as well as a num­ber of core cul­tural changes in order to bring about a new best-​​of-​​breed prac­tices. They’re col­lab­o­rat­ing at sev­eral lev­els of clas­si­fied mate­r­ial with 15 other agen­cies in what is referred to as the “Intel­li­gence Community”.

That suite of tools includes:

Janssen-​​Cilag are a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany that under­takes sig­nif­i­cant research pro­grams and prod­uct devel­op­ment. With around 350 employ­ees, like many organ­i­sa­tions, they had an under­used, often out of date intranet until mid-​​2006 when they replaced it all with a wiki.

The wiki was imple­mented after a care­ful exam­i­na­tion of and research into actual user needs and was switched live dur­ing a demo in a large staff meet­ing. Gutsy.

Nathan Wal­lace, one of the dri­ving forces for JCin­tra, esti­mates that a large per­cent­age — in excess of 70 per­cent — of staff now actively con­tribute to or update con­tent on the wiki.

Nathan puts the fol­low­ing four points forth as a man­i­festo for suc­cess­ful implementation:

  1. Indi­vid­u­als and inter­ac­tions over processes and tools.
  2. Ease of use over com­pre­hen­sive training.
  3. Flex­i­ble tools over completeness.
  4. Respond­ing to needs over cre­at­ing demand.

Janssen-​​Cilag are now tak­ing fur­ther steps in their Enter­prise 2.0 efforts, intro­duc­ing blog­ging to any staff mem­ber who want to do so and Jit­ter, an inter­nal equiv­a­lent to Twitter.

There are many more suc­cess sto­ries and the list grows daily. I’m only too happy to help you find a case study that might be rel­e­vant to your organisation.

We’ve seen fairly com­pre­hen­sively the ben­e­fits that a well-​​considered, peo­ple– and problem-​​centric approach to Enter­prise 2.0 pro­grams can offer.

As more and more busi­nesses undergo the shift to oper­at­ing this way, your busi­ness risks being left behind, flail­ing, as it fails to adapt to the changed way of doing busi­ness in the 21st Century.

While more than a lit­tle scary, the need to adapt and adopt is upon us. Tak­ing a softly, softly, late adopter approach is per­haps more of a risk to the sur­vival of your busi­ness than jump­ing in, look­ing at the needs and prob­lems and tak­ing first steps.

James Gov­er­nor from Red­Monk threw this one at us back in April 2007.  He’s right.

“Net­worked, social-​​based oppor­tu­ni­ties are so explo­sive today that when we pur­sue them we’re flung for­ward at pace.”

James Gov­er­nor, RedMonk

So, Enter­prise 2.0 — Enabling change or part of the problem?

While your efforts absolutely need to be backed by a sound strat­egy and good rea­sons your organ­i­sa­tions stand upon ground that offers you an oppor­tu­nity to take leaps for­ward in inno­va­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tion and pro­duc­tiv­ity that they’ve never been offered before.

Imag­ine your organ­i­sa­tion if this was the way things were done.